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US places restrictions on Ethiopia over continued human rights violations

THE Unite States has imposed a raft of restrictions on Ethiopian and Eritrean officials, six months after a government military offensive in the Ethiopian region of Tigray that has left thousands dead.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the measures on Sunday. They include visa restrictions and a cut in economic support and security assistance. 

Humanitarian aid, including food, medical supplies and education, will not be subjected to restrictions.

Mr Blinken said the measures were aimed at “current or former Ethiopian or Eritrean government officials, members of the security forces, or other individuals — to include Amhara regional and irregular forces and members of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) — responsible for, or complicit in, undermining resolution of the crisis in Tigray.”

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched operations against the northern Tigray region last November after it held regional elections in defiance of Addis Ababa. 

Since then thousands have been killed and more than one million have been displaced, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

The European Union has also suspended budget support payments amid reports of brutal gang rapes and the mass killings of civilians.

“People in Tigray continue to suffer human rights violations, abuses and atrocities, and urgently needed humanitarian relief is being blocked by the Ethiopian and Eritrean militaries as well as other armed actors,” Mr Blinken said.

He said the measures were being taken as the Ethiopian government and other parties have taken “no meaningful steps to end hostilities or pursue a peaceful resolution of the political crisis.”

Last month the Eritrean government finally admitted to having troops inside neighbouring Ethiopia, and insisted that they would pull out. 

But United Nations human rights official Mark Lowcock said he has seen no “proof of Eritrean withdrawal.”

Elections planned for next month have been scrapped indefinitely, with authorities claiming they did not have enough time to make the necessary preparations.

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